This is our Thanksgiving weekend! Of course, because of Covid, our Thanksgiving celebrations are unlike so much of what we’ve known before, but the message remains the same! This is still a time for us to express our most profound gratitude for everything that makes our lives rich and meaningful, and it’s expressed intentionally to God – this God whom Paul[i] implies is the source of all that is true, noble, of whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable— anything/everything that is excellent or praiseworthy. It’s to GOD that we give our deepest gratitude for all we have! This is especially so for the giving of God’s own Son, Jesus Christ, in whom all of us live and move and have our being.
Last week we looked at how Moses was given the 10 COMMANDMENTS as a guide to the worship God requires from us – worship as a way of living that reflects God’s character by honouring the very best of ourselves and creation. Our reading from Exodus 32:1-14 this week describes a time when we got it so very WRONG! Unfortunately, like Aaron and all those with that golden calf, we expect God to show up to act in a certain way and when it seems that God doesn’t do that, we want to take things into our own hands and re-create God into an image of our choosing! God will not tolerate that! That’s what that those ‘I am a jealous God[ii]’ verses are all about.
After their miraculous deliverance and provision, the people of Israel had naturally come to expect more of the same, and because it didn’t seem to be coming they took charge! The infinite good of who and what God is and does can and should never be limited by the very finite nature of our expectations! I know we understand that God chooses constantly to be revealed as Love! Righteousness! Justice! Goodness! Mercy! Compassion! Truth! But even there, even the characteristics of God are not God! Neither are the activities of God! God is beyond both God’s characteristics as well as God’s activities! ONLY GOD IS GOD!
AND SO, WHERE IS THIS TAKING US? As I said, we saw last week how our best worship is about more than simply occasional religious rituals as about the Godly living out of our everyday lives! But beneath and before we can go there, there is our need to embrace something else: It’s the same thing that caused Moses to cover his face every time as he drew near to the Holy. It’s the thing that we see requiring a cloud of shekinah-holiness to descend whenever God’s presence drew near to God’s people…
We’re speaking about our response to the wholly otherness of the One who is simultaneously over and all around us as well as closer than our breathing. This is our realization of wonder at this holiness everywhere, within all things! As we miss that – however good or religious we may be – we risk missing everything!
Remember those frustratingly elusive 3D pictures that were all the rage some years ago. But how wonderful when we were able to see!
Richard Rohr draws on images from St Francis of Assisi as well as other medieval saints (Bonaventure, Jon Duns Scotus) who were given to see, to appreciate the holiness of God within all of what surrounded them.
It’s from this place of sacred encounter – this wonder-full appreciation of eternal holiness that our most real worship is released to flow. There is something deeply primal within us – a constant and insatiable yearning for sacred intimacy. Our INTENTIONALLY going there restores us in at least two vital areas of our living:
- …our energy: As in Psalm 23 where we have our souls restored or Psalm 121 where we’re told that it’s from whence cometh our help!
- …our vision: As in Jn.9:25 where all he knew was that he was once blind but after his encounter with Jesus, he can see!
We all allow how we see ourselves, how we see others, how we embrace our purpose, even how we understand God to congested by lesser things. Before we know we may find that we become so distracted by our circumstances that we begin to lose sight of what matters most. We engage the numinous in order to be recalibrated with our God-given identity and purpose!
On this Thanksgiving weekend – even while we give gratitude to God for all the various blessing in our lives…, we would ESPECIALLY GIVE THANKS TO GOD FOR GOD!
…and for how, as we allow ourselves to go there, we allow God’s own Self to fill our souls…
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[i] Philippians 4:8
[ii] See Exodus 20:5 and Deuteronomy 5:9